It’s never too early to start marking the calendar with Division III football games, especially with the opening kickoff just two weeks away.
In anticipation of the first kickoff of the 2016 season, which happens to be two weeks from today – Anna Maria vs. Coast Guard Academy – we have provided a list (and some quick thoughts) on what games you should keep an eye on (or attend) in week one.
Thursday, Sept. 1 – Coast Guard Academy at Anna Maria, 7 p.m. – We have been counting the days and weeks for this game, so when the Bears and AMCATs take the field, it will mean a new season of college football has begun. Keep an eye on Coast Guard Academy senior co-captain and quarterback Derek Victory, who enjoyed an impressive junior season under center.
Friday, Sept. 2 – UMass Dartmouth at Mount Ida, 6 p.m. – This is always a must-see game, according to Mount Ida head coach Michael Landers. Keep an eye on Mount Ida sophomore quarterback Jack Sheehan, who enjoyed an impressive first season, while also watching UMass Dartmouth junior linebacker Brandon Miller. Miller should be a focal point of the Corsairs’ defense this season.
Friday, Sept. 2 – Western New England at Springfield College, 7 p.m. – This has become a true rivalry game – basically, the winner becomes the so-called king of Springfield. The Golden Bears were picked to capture the New England Football Conference (NEFC) crown, but will be tested by a new-look Pride squad, which will be led by first-year head coach Mike Cerasuolo.
Friday, Sept. 2 – WPI at MIT, 7 p.m. – Both schools are rivals in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC), so this game will certainly live up to its hype. WPI escaped last year’s meeting thanks to a fourth quarter field goal by senior Blaine Bursey.
Friday, Sept. 2 – Bridgewater State at Curry, 7 p.m. – A new era has begun in Bridgewater as long-time assistant and defensive coordinator Joe Verria will lead the Bears as the program’s interim head coach. The Bears beat Curry last year in their season opener, but the Colonels rebounded, capping their 2015 campaign by winning three of five contests.
Friday, Sept. 2 – Fitchburg State at Becker, 7 p.m. – After an impressive 7-3 campaign, the Hawks of Becker will look to prove 2015 wasn’t a fluke. First-year head coach Frank Forcucci, who spent the previous three seasons as the program’s Associate Head Coach and defensive coordinator, will lead Becker this fall. Fitchburg State – on the other hand – has high aspirations for this season and will be led by senior quarterback Garrett Dellechiaie, who tossed 26 touchdowns for the second-straight season.
Friday, Sept. 2 – Salve Regina at Worcester St., 7 p.m. – The Seahawks of Salve Regina were picked to finish second the New England Football Conference (NEFC). They also appeared in our Noontime Sports Top 10 Preseason poll, too. Worcester State is one of our ‘Teams on the Rise,’ and this has always been an intriguing matchup, especially when each offense gets into a groove.
Saturday, Sept. 3 – Endicott at Framingham State, 12 p.m. – Under second year head coach Kevin DeWall, the Gulls of Endicott will look to commence their season with an opening day road win against a Framingham State squad that will feature some new names on both sides of the ball. The Rams won last season’s opener in Beverly, defeating Endicott, 42-6. Endicott’s last win in Framingham came in 2012 with the Gulls claiming a 34-7 victory.
Saturday, Sept. 3 – Plymouth State at Castleton, 1 p.m. – Castleton sophomore Mitchell Caron is expected to be spotted under center in the Spartans’ season opener. Quarterback George Busharis graduated this past spring, so it will be fun to watch Caron lead the Spartans. As for Plymouth State, they enter 2016 a year older and with more experience.
Saturday, Sept. 3 – Hartwick at West Conn., 5 p.m. – Senior halfback Michael Nicol will be expected to carry the load this year, and help Western Connecticut State kick-off its season with a win against a talented Hartwick squad. Nicol will be one of many players to watch on Joe Loth’s squad, especially if they want to make a run toward winning the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown.
For the fourth episode of Noontime Sports the Podcast, Matt Noonan caught up with a former Noontime Sports blogger – yes, he did contribute back in the day! – Trevor Paul (T.H. Paul) to chat about his new book: The Legacy Chronicle: The Sword.
In addition to learning more about the book and Paul’s writing process, Noonan and Paul also talked some sports – yes, we had to throw some sports talk in, right? – discussing what it is like to coach prep school athletics, as well as Maine hockey (and some NESCAC hockey, too).
First-year Commissioner Katie Boldvich has a plan to strengthen the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) – an eight-team Division III football league that is made-up of schools in Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont and Washington D.C.
Her goal: create a true conference that works together, while sharing a similar philosophy.
“(We do) not want to be just a group of schools that have to play each other every year,” said Boldvich. “The (ECFC) is looking to grow, re-brand itself and really come together as a true conference.”
The conference began this plan – well, technically the first-step of it – on Monday by unveiling a new logo. It is quite snazzy – the colors are blue and white, it is extremely catchy (and attractive), and Boldvich believes this is a great first-step.
“The ECFC is excited for its new look and is extremely satisfied with the outcome of the design process,” Boldvich said in the conference’s release. “The new mark is a great step forward for the conference as the league moves toward building a stronger identity.”
In addition to a new logo, the ECFC has been quite active on social media, promoting all eight teams on Twitter. The handle features some great content, including photos or videos, thanks to each institution’s Twitter handle (and team handle).
Said Boldvich, “We are really trying to do as much as we can to push out content, while getting the programs and student-athletes more engaged on the social media side.”
Social media is going to be key for the conference’s success, especially throughout the remainder of preseason. Boldvich and her staff have some great plans in place for the next few days and weeks, including a countdown to kickoff, a preseason poll and interesting facts on each team.
Following the preseason hype – or buildup to week one – Boldvich plans to implement an in-season and in-game social media plan, which fans will be able to witness on Thursday, September 1 when Anna Maria College – one of the eight teams in the league – commences its season under the lights against Coast Guard Academy.
“I am going to be at a game each week,” said Boldvich, “and whatever game I am attend will get the bulk of attention on social media. I am going to Anna Maria’s kickoff, so we are going to make a big deal about it on social, and we hope to post multiple videos and photos throughout the contest.”
With an increase in social media, along with a new logo, Boldvich has already upped the ECFC’s presence, but the exciting part is there is plenty more to come. The conference has some great plans in place to increase its digital footprint, and that will definitely help Boldvich, the Athletic Directors and Coaches in accomplishing their goal of coming together as more than a three-month conference.
“Our focus (moving forward) will be to continue to work together, while sharing (and establishing) a similar philosophy, which we’re currently working on as a group,” said Boldvich. “We hope to see some great results from these discussions over the next few seasons.”
In about a month, the eight teams in the Ivy League will kick off the 2016 season.
The preseason media poll was released this morning, and there is a familiar name at the top: Harvard.
The Crimson top the poll for the eleventh time overall, and the sixth in the last nine years. In order to claim another league title, Harvard will have to replace what is arguably the most successful football class in Harvard football history.
“To lose that nucleus of 15 starters last year (it) is a little bit daunting and certainly unprecedented for us,” said head coach Tim Murphy during the Ivy League media conference call. “But there are a lot of guys really looking for the opportunity to replace those guys.”
The biggest question mark is at quarterback. Senior Joe Viviano and sophomore Tom Stewart are vying for the starting job. Whoever the starter is will have big shoes to fill: replacing the Ivy League offensive player of the year, Scott Hosch.
“I can’t remember coming into the season with a competition at quarterback where really neither guy has ever taken a meaningful snap in a college football game,” said Murphy.
The running back position will be a platoon situation, at least to start the season. Murphy expects junior Semar Smith, and sophomores Noah Reimers and Charlie Booker to all get some carries.
Up front, Murphy says some players to watch include lineman Larry Allen and Max Rich, H-Back Anthony Firkser, and wide receiver Justice Shelton-Mosley.
The leading returner on defense is Sean Ahern, a fifth-year cornerback who is also team captain. Doug Webb and Miles McCollum return to anchor on the defensive line.
Murphy expects a lot of seniors, who haven’t had much playing time, to step up.
“You’ve got to recruit character kids. And if you recruit character kids….they know what it takes. The starting point is ‘lead by example’,” he said.
Harvard begins its 2016 campaign on Friday, September 16th against Rhode Island.
The Crimson and the rest of the Ivy League teams will have to deal with some changes on kickoffs. They’ve been moved to the 40-yard line. And on touchbacks, the ball will be placed at the 20. The goal is to reduce the number of concussions and other injuries on returns.
It was announced on Friday that Tim Robbins would become the ninth men’s lacrosse head coach at American International College after spending the past season as the squad’s interim head coach.
The Yellow Jackets, who compete in an extremely competitive Northeast-10 Conference, capped their 2016 campaign with a ‘Senior Day’ victory over Georgian Court. Jack McIntyre paced the Black and Gold, tallying six points on four goals and two assists, while Lucas Bombardier netted a hat trick.
Bombardier concluded his initial season of collegiate lacrosse by earning a spot on the conference’s All-Rookie team.
“I am extremely elated to be given the honor of leading the Men’s Lacrosse program of American International College,” Robbins said in the athletic department’s release. “I am excited to continue to work with this tremendous group of young men, to recruit, teach, mentor and coach the young men and establish a winning culture as we strive to reach new heights in the Northeast-10 Conference.”
“Tim Robbins has done a tremendous job for us in an interim role over the past year,” Director of Athletics Matt Johnson said in the release. “He has outstanding lacrosse playing and coaching experience and his current players have been very vocal in advocating for his permanent assignment.”
Robbins joined the AIC staff as an assistant coach prior to the 2015 campaign before Johnson announced last November that he would become the program’s interim head coach.
Prior to arriving at AIC, Robbins spent time as either an assistant or head coach for numerous collegiate programs, including College of Saint Rose where he guided the Golden Eagles to a 7-6 overall record during the program’s initial season in 2012. Additionally, Robbins was instrumental in helping Siena College capture their conference crown (MAAC), while advancing to the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament in 2009.
Said Johnson, “We are excited about the future of our men’s lacrosse program.”
Matt Colombini is excited to be back in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC).
The former Colby College and Wheaton College assistant coach recently accepted the men’s lacrosse head coaching position at Emerson College earlier this week.
“I am really excited to be back in the NEWMAC,” said Colombini.
“In the one year that I was gone, you saw Coast Guard take a huge jump into the playoff mix, MIT enjoy another successful season, and Babson and Springfield play to one-goal games. There is definitely some parody throughout the league, so it is very exciting to get back into it.”
Colombini inherits a Lions squad searching for its initial league victory since the school became the 11th member of the NEWMAC three years ago.
Emerson graduated a trio of players from last season’s roster, but return juniors Diego Rosende and Jack Bushell, who combined for 31 points on 24 goals and seven assists. Sophomore Cameron Radenberg will also be player to watch on attack after concluding his initial season with eight points on five goals and three assists.
The Lions also return a pair of goaltenders, including sophomore Bailey Kennedy, who started 11 games last season and finished seventh in the conference with 129 saves.
“We’re going to have to use the first week of fall ball to see where we’re at, while putting some guys in different positions,” said Colombini. “Afterward we will install various schemes and find offenses and defenses that fit best for our guys.”
It has only been a few days, but Colombini’s optimism and excitement could result in an exciting next chapter of the Emerson men’s lacrosse program.
“My biggest goal heading into this upcoming season is to help Emerson compete against each team in the league, while earning our first-ever NEWMAC win,” said Colombini.